Saturday, April 16, 2011

Glencairn Museum - A hidden gem.

I am thinking that maybe I should have called this "Our Field Trip" blog at this point because here comes another post about another field trip. There have been a lot of them lately though and they were so much fun that I had to share.

This past week we visited a place I had never heard of before but was absolutely fascinating and beautiful and I can't believe it isn't more widely advertised.  The Glencairn Museum in the former home of the Pitcairn family who made their money in glass during the beginning of the 20th century.  Their home was built in the style of a medieval castle and now houses Pitcairn's collections of medieval and religious art.

The place was massive and I really couldn't get a good picture of the whole building without being up higher.

We took three different tours.  One was throughout the castle and was led by several college students from Byn Athyn college which is connected with the museum.  They did a great job at keeping the kids engaged and really making it fun taking them from room to room to meet different characters.  I don't know if you can see in the pictures but they had them wear pilgrim cloaks and pretended they were time travelers.

Here they are learning how to set a medieval table.
They also met a nun and a knight.
Here Aiden is learning what it means to be a knight and he was even then knighted.

 Besides all the fun characters the place was just breathtaking.  Can you believe this is in Pennsylvania and not somewhere in Europe?

Many of the walls were decorated in this elaborate tiny tile work.
This is the angel Michael from the book of Revelation killing Satan the dragon.

The next picture is the tiled ceiling in one of the rooms.
There was one room filled with many of these 12th and 13th century capitals from Europe.

The kids also had a very interesting class on stained glass art and how to "read" them and what certain pictures symbolized.
That's not to mention all the random ancient artifacts that we hardly had time to look at in each of the rooms.
The kids also had a chance to check out a replica of a Gutenburg printing press that they had on temporary display there to help commemorate the 400th anniversary of the King James bible.

 After a lovely lunch outside we headed over to the cathedral which is on the same property for another tour and class about the art of making stained glass.
Again it looks like we are in Europe.  The entire building was built of granite while the inside of the cathedral was sandstone blocks bolted to the granite which gave the interior of rich gold color.
All of the hardware, doorknobs, hinges, railings, gates etc were hand forged and unique.  All the woodwork was worked by hand as if it really had been built in medieval times making everything so fascinating to look at.  The floors and doors were all a beautiful rich teak wood.
The kids had a chance to see what it is like to chisel limestone and how much work it must have taken on all the stone decorative pieces in the cathedral and castle.
They also enjoyed coloring their own stained glass art while listening to how it was made.
 At the end we had time to explore around the outside of the buildings and enjoy the gardens and flowers.
I had a really hard time limiting these pictures but if you want to see more I guess you will just need to go see it for  yourself.

After hearing about our fun time Christian wanted to go back to see it himself so we plan on going down for their Christmas Event, the first Sunday in December or for Medieval Day, the first Sunday in February.  Or maybe both!  They both sound like a lot of fun for the whole family.


  1. Your pictures are gorgeous, Cristy! Glencairn was my uncle's house, and Nick and I were married in the cathedral. I don't know if you went to the Glencairn site, but if Christian wants to see an aerial view, there's a little video there that shows the area.

  2. Oops, forgot the link:

  3. The cathedral and other pix do look like the ones I saw in Europe. Georgous! I didn't know there was anything like this so close. What an education your children are getting with these field trips. I would love visiting this place, too.

  4. Wow! What a beautiful place. Your children looked like they really enjoyed themselves.
    I never knew that PA had so many beautiful historical sites.
    Sir Aiden has a BIG responsibility as a knight!!


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